You will all be aware that the EFL announced on Friday that the league season is to start on 12th September. It is anticipated that the first round of the Carabao Cup matches will take place in the preceding week. I know from speaking to the manager and players that they will be delighted to be back on the training ground on 4th August after the longest lay off they have had during their careers.
We do not know when crowds will be allowed back in stadia. The Government have indicated a desire that it should be sometime in October. We are ready with season tickets but will not be putting these on sale at the moment for two reasons. First, we do not know when crowds will be allowed and thus how many games the tickets will cover and hence the cost of the tickets. Secondly, we do not know how many fans will be allowed in the ground and whether away fans will be permitted. Last week, we received the consultation draft of the Green Guide Appendix from the Sports Ground Safety Authority. We have to comply with the requirements of this Guide. We had been anticipating 50% of our capacity would be allowed. However, the draft Guide is far more restrictive, and it is estimated that it will be between 17% and 30%. Most League 2 grounds including BP will be at the lower end of that percentage. Once the Guide is finalised, we can carry out our calculations to ascertain the number of fans who will be allowed, and this will then have to be approved by the Safety Advisory Group to comply with our Safety Certificate.
Until crowds are allowed, I hope fans will participate in using iFollow to watch games. There is a meeting next week between League 2 clubs and the EFL to discuss iFollow and the packages which will be available to purchase. Again, as soon as a decision is made on this I will let you know.
I have previously referred to the prospect of a financial rescue package from the EFL. Sadly, there is no further news of this and we await, in anticipation, any news of it. Over a season, our income from ticket sales, match sponsorship and related commercial income is approximately £1,700,000. It is not difficult to see why a financial rescue package is essential to keep clubs at our level afloat until such time as we can play before full crowds again. Whilst our income will be severely reduced our outgoings will be increased to comply with Covid 19 requirements and the EFL protocols.
A couple of examples. The cost of testing for the period of training until the season starts will be £17,000. Under EFL regulations, we have to use the testing company appointed by the EFL and have to pay for it. I am in dialogue with the EFL to try and persuade them to allow clubs to use the free Government testing sites and will continue to press them on this. We do not yet know what testing will be required when playing starts but it could easily be £3,000 per week. Another example is under the current protocol for EFL games played since the resumption, we would have to use two coaches for the team for away matches and if there is an overnight stay, each player and staff member would have to have their own hotel room rather than share as they have previously done. These are just a couple of the examples and there are many more.
I would like to end with a big thank you to everyone who has supported us during these difficult times. Thank you to the players and staff who have taken wage reductions. Thank you to Richard Ladd for organising the Crowdfunder and to all of those who contributed to it. Thank you to those who did not require a season ticket refund whilst appreciating that there were those who were not able to. Thank you to the Mariners Trust and its members for organising the sale of shares and other fundraising initiatives and again to all those who contributed. Thank you to our commercial partners and sponsors the vast majority of whom did not require any refund. Thank you to everyone for supporting the Club shop and the staff who manned the online sales. Next week, you will be able to further support us by buying next season’s kit.
Thank you to the players and staff who have been involved in community projects and have helped those less fortunate and in need. If I have missed anyone, I apologise.
There is no doubt that we still face very challenging times ahead. Together we will get through it. We have some very good senior players and exciting prospects in our development squad. Ollie is raring to go, and his enthusiasm is infectious. We have shown over the spring and summer we can all work together and contribute to our fantastic football club. Let’s continue to do that.